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BMW powers the US Paralympic team

by • August 3, 2016 • No Comments


BMW Designworks has announced the new 3D printed wheelchairs it made for the US Paralympic Track and Field team in a new TV advert.

DesignworksUSA, the BMW-owned creative consultancy, is the Official Mobility Partner of the United States Olympic Committee. It worked with the team to tailor each and each chair to the specific athlete to assist them donate their most in Rio de Janeiro.

Paralympian Josh George competes in a number of T53 events, ranging of sprints to marathons. He has won five Paralympic medals, a number of international marathons, he’s a World Champion, world record holder and a motivational speaker. Here he talks of the difference that the 3D printed wheelchair may manufacture to his latest campaign.

From the winter to the Paralympics

BMW’s consultancy worked with the US bobsled team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The lightweight, streamlined sled that additive making assisted to turn it into took the team to three medals. Now it has turned its attention to wheelchairs for the Paralympic squad.

The Paralympics include a vast array of sports, of road racing through to basketball and fencing. Each sport places its own one-of-a-kind demands on the chairs that the athletes use and that means that 3D printing should have an increasing level of effects on the games over time.

This year cyclist Denise Schindler can use a 3D printed leg and now the US team can use the wheelchairs. They can appear ostensibly much like, but under the skin the 3D printed wheelchairs are a world away of their traditionally manufactured counterparts.

A 3D printed aerodynamic advantage

Designworks took a 3D scan of the athlete in their chair. So it made 3D models, that include the athlete in the procedure, that may satisfactory tune the aerodynamics. The 3D modelling system assisted them find a way to reduce drag by up to 15% with a series of tiny changes to the frame and the user’s position.

Designworks USA Associate Director Brad Cracchiola told Fast Company: “It is not necessarily a revolution for these guys, but you want to donate them each little edge. If they’re pushing into a headwind, or they hit a hill at 45 miles per hour, at those points, they’re in a tucked position attempting to get as much speed as they can.”

BMW Wheelchair for the US Olympic team

Comfort is the key

For an athlete to donate their most performance, user comfort is a crucial. This redesign focused on tailoring the chairs to the athlete so that they felt effortless, they may rely on their chair to feel the same each and each time and they may focus purely on their performance.

“There’s an informative psychology to this,” he said. “The comfort of your equipment, the repeatability, when you have that mold, you understand how it’s going to feel each time. That’s one less thing for the athlete to ponder of.”

Carbon fiber can manufacture a difference

The wheelchairs were printed of carbon fiber, that is lighter than aluminium and in addition provides greater torsional rigidity and stiffness. With less flex in the frame, additional of the power the athlete puts through wheels goes into forward motion.

It is another subtle difference, but over the course of a long event and so keeping the wheels perfectly aligned and preventing shocks going through the frame can be the difference between winning and losing. As can the rapid prototyping aspect that allows for the designers to print a selection of options that the athletes can test in real world conditions to find the most solution.

The US Paralympic team can go for gold in Rio de Janeiro, powered by BMW, and we wish these extraordinary athletes the quite most of luck.


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